Coldest storm in ‘several years’ heading into Merced. Snow, tornadoes reported in Valley

A particularly cold weather pattern is headed to Merced County along with rain, according to meteorologists.

Potential rain, thunderstorms and hail have been forecast in Merced County through Tuesday evening, according to meteorologist Brian Ochs of the National Weather Service in Hanford.

“We’ll probably see another system coming through by Friday,” he said. “I don’t (think) it will be a heavy rain.”

Lows in the upper 30s early in the week will get down to near freezing late in the week, he said. Snow is also predicted below Mariposa and in the peaks of Pacheco Pass.

“This is probably about the coolest system we’ve seen in the past several years if not 10 years,” Ochs said.

“Pea to nickel” sized hail rained down as booming thunder rang throughout the southern Sierra Nevada foothills Monday, expected to be followed by snow Monday night.

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The hail began pouring down in Oakhurst and Coarsegold shortly before 1 p.m. and continued throughout the rest of the afternoon.

A winter weather advisory was in place for the western portion of the San Joaquin Valley above 2,000 feet. Higher up, a winter storm warning remains in place for the Tulare County Mountains and Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Kings Canyon.

But snow levels dipped to 1,500 feet elevations Monday night, according to the National Weather Service. That included a light, visible dusting and a couple inches in the peaks of Pacheco Valley.

Other parts of the Valley saw unusual weather events in recent days. A tornado touched down just outside of Mariposa on Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

Officials the weather service surveyed the area where a video was taken of a funnel cloud on Ben Hur Road near Beach Road, according to Meteorologist Jim Bagnall.

Surveyors found branches ripped from trees and grass swirls that indicated a tornado had touched down. Bagnall said that the tornado touched down briefly just eight miles south of Mariposa and reached winds speeds 65 to 85 miles per hour.

There was also a brief tornado warning on Monday near Fresno.